Most of us have heard the term holiness in our lives. Holiness is one of the big words we use in church to describe God. It is also the term used to describe the Church and the life we are called to live.
However, I most want to focus on God’s holiness. What prompts this is the idea that we often separate God’s holiness from the other aspects we attribute to Him.
For example, God’s love and His holiness. We act as though these are two separate things. As though His love is void and separate from His holiness. Surely this can’t be. Holiness simply means “set apart.” So what if we looked at the attributes of God through His holiness.
God’s love is holy, because it is set apart. It is different that the love of the world or even the love of you and me. It is perfect. We are called to this type of love. A love that is holy and separate from the world.
What about His mercy? His mercy is holy. It is different from the mercy of the world.
His justice? It is holy. It is set apart from the justice of the world.
My point is that we while we may try, in discussing a particular attribute used to describe God, separate them, in reality we cannot divorce one of God’s attributes from another. God’s holiness is connected to His love is connected to His mercy is connected to His justice and so on and so on.
Truth be told, it’s the same with us. We don’t love enough or have enough mercy or show justice? Perhaps we aren’t set apart the way we should be.
How is your (or my) holiness going these days?
You’ve done it.
We have over-promised and under-delivered.
Maybe it was when someone asked us to pray for them. We had good intentions. Maybe we threw up a quickie and, just as quickly, forgot about it. That person continued to go through their situation and we continued through life as normal.
Maybe someone was moving into some sort of mission field. We told them we would help them financially. We forgot all about it and they had needs that went unmet.
Maybe someone was involved in a cool ministry. They appealed for help. We became excited. We offered help and never followed through.
Some would say that we should do just the opposite. They would say that we should under-promise and over-deliver.
I don’t think so. I think that is just as bad.
We should let our yes be yes and our no be no.
If someone needs prayer, we should pray for them and with them.
If someone needs financial help, and we feel like we can help them, we should help them.
If someone is involved in a ministry and we offer our help, we should go help.
No under or over-promising. No over or under-delivering.
You’re guilty of it. I’m guilty of it.
Let’s just do what we say we’ll do.
Are you guilty of over-promising and under-delivering?
For most of this summer, as in summers past, I battled fire ants. Several mounds of these pests from the bowels of the earth infiltrated my yard.
I did several things to battle these creatures. I bought a commercial product to spread near the mounds. This didn’t work. I spread rice around the mound in hope that they would eat and swell to death. No luck. Again, I bought a commercial product. Temporary at best, the ants and their mounds returned.
Finally, tired and concerned the mounds would multiply, I decided on a drastic course of action. I went to my outbuilding and sought my measure of last resort. I retrieved the only remedy of which I could think.
I grabbed my can and doused each mound with gasoline.
The mounds and ants are gone.
This was not the best method to rid myself of the ants. I have a few spots in my yard that are bare. Nothing will grow there for a while. I’m sure there are environmental risks.
The ants, though, were defeated.
You might want to know what that has to do with anything.
It has everything to do with everything.
You and I have sin in our life. We will do many things in an attempt to defeat sin in our lives. (Don’t get me wrong. Ultimately, if we are believers, sin is defeated by Christ on the cross. What I’m talking about are the sins that creep into the nooks and crannies of our lives.)
We try a variety of things to make ourselves holy. Or we don’t. Hopefully, we are all concerned with sin in our lives.
Some might call it the mortification of sin.
Sometimes it takes something radical to rid ourselves of sin.
Much like when Saul had disobeyed God and Samuel hacked Agag to death, it often takes extreme measures to rid ourselves of sin.
Here is the most extreme.
We need to love God more.
We need to fill up on the Holy Spirit more.
We need to put on Christ more.
In other words, God must be our aim.
Why does sin have a hold in our life? Why are our lives full of pride? Why do we lie or live lives of gluttony or lust or you (insert ) a sin here?
It’s because we aren’t doing the most radical thing that we can do. We aren’t chasing after God with all we have. We aren’t living our lives by reflecting on the gospel. We aren’t living our lives in the shadow of the cross.
How can I say that about you? Because that’s my problem. I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m nothing extraordinary. I’m just like you.
Do something radical today. Do something extreme in your pursuit of the Lord. Do whatever it takes to rid yourself of sin by gaining more of Him.
How do you rid your life of sin? Are you filling yourself up on the Lord?
On Sunday, I missed church and I didn’t mind it.
Here’s the situation.
Jan, my wife, had a family reunion. My son, Andrew, had not been feeling well the past few days, so I let him rest and we stayed home. My daughter, Lauren, went to Sunday School at the church my kids attend part-time. She came home and went to the reunion with Jan.
Church time came and went. Normally, I will have a feeling of missing something. This time? Nothing. I didn’t miss it at all.
That’s about as far as I want to go with this. I simply didn’t mind missing church at the church I joined a few months ago.
Have you ever missed church and not minded missing it at all?
My friend, Chad Gibbs, has a new book that releases today. I read his first book, God and Football, several months ago. I’ve been excited about this new book, Love Thy Rivals, ever since. I can’t wait to get my copy soon.
However, this isn’t the most exciting thing that Chad has going on. In conjunction with his release, Chad is teaming up with Samaritan’s Purse where rival sports fans can contribute to help build a women’s and children’s clinic in Haiti.
Below are the links where you can contribute if you can. If you use only one link, use the First Giving one. Please prayerfully consider if you can help in any way.
On a personal note, let me add that one of my neighbors just made it out of Haiti with her adopted son ahead of Isaac bearing down on the island.
Thank you for reading this and helping to make Chad’s and Samaritan Purse’s campaign successful.
Last week, we arrived at the empty tomb in John 20. This week, we see Jesus appear to his disciples.
Apparently, Mary’s declaration was met with a large dose of skepticism. We join the action with the disciples hiding out behind closed and locked doors. They are scared that the Jews may bust through the doors at any moment. Suddenly, Jesus appears. Does He walk through the doors? Does He just materialize among them? The text doesn’t tell us. However, we know what He says:
Peace be with you.
He knows what His appearance will mean and do to them. It can be rather upsetting to see someone rise from the dead. What Jesus is telling the disciples is to stay calm.
Joy. He showed them this hands and His side. And they rejoiced
Then Jesus does something that seems strange. He breathes on them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. This may seem strange, considering that the Holy Spirit comes upon them later in Acts, but it seems that this is totally different from that one. Here it seems that Jesus is breathing eternal life into them. Later, they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
Next, we run into Thomas. For whatever reason, he is not with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them. Naturally, since he didn’t see it, Thomas does not believe the word of ten of his closest friends. So, Jesus appears again for Thomas’ benefit. Thomas had already said that he would not believe unless he had seen Jesus’ wounds.
So, Jesus appears. Again, He says, “Peace be with you.” And He tells Thomas to touch His wounds.
Thomas’ reaction is priceless: “My Lord and My God!!!”
Jesus tells Thomas that he has seen and believed, but those who have not seen and believed are blessed.
That seems to be the overriding point of all of this. None of the disciples really believed until they saw Jesus. None of them went by the word of anyone who had seen Jesus. However, they are going to be commissioned to tell people what they saw and those who believe will be blessed.
Believing is seeing in this case.
Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? Have you received this blessing?
Oftentimes when I’m in the shower, I worship. A song comes to mind and I sing it to myself.
The other morning I was worshipping to this song.
You just did a double take and wondered how in the world I could worship to this song. It doesn’t mention Jesus at all.
This song is, for me, the epitome of the “Outlaw” movement in country music when I was a kid. If you aren’t familiar with that movement, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others rebelled against the country music establishment. Fed up with the cookie-cutter formula of the “Nashville Sound”, they decided to do their own thing. It was a risky chance to take. They could have failed and been blackballed by Nashville.
Instead, they hit it big.
Steven Taylor, from a different angle, takes on the Church in a similar fashion in this song.
Neither Waylon Jennings nor Steven Taylor are original though.
Jesus did the same thing over 2,000 years ago. He rebelled against the power base of the Jewish leaders. He brought the gospel of the kingdom of God to Israel.
He was rejected.
Today, we have a choice. Have many of our churches become like Nashville was in the early 70’s? Do we cookie-cutter our faith? Do we really need to do it the way everyone tells us to do it? Are we a little too comfortable?
Maybe we need some Outlaw Christianity. Maybe we need to be a little dangerous. Maybe we need to lose the comfort.
Are you following the establishment? Or are you an “Outlaw”?